Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Benny and Shrimp - Katarina Mazetti

The author is Swedish, and has written several books, but not all have been translated.  I wonder who seized on this one? - whoever it was hit the spot for me.  Benny is a 30+ farmer, struggling with 24 cows and some sheep on a small farm that he dearly wants to be a success.  But his parents are dead, he has no partner, and milk does not command the price it used to.  "Shrimp" (whose parents christened her Desiree) is 34, a librarian and a widow who eats her lunch on a bench in the cemetery near the grave of her husband.  One day, Benny sits down next to her on the same bench.....

If I describe this as a story of love at first sight, I am not sure I would be correct.  Perhaps a story of instant attraction and passion?  Well.... would I be instantly attracted to a man in dirty overalls smelling of cows?  Would I be instantly attracted to a woman who was stick thin with straight, thin hair the colour of milk in clothes of a similar colour?   I read this urging them to work out their differences and found it "funny and addictive" as it says on the cover.  Love, passion, hate.  All very similar in the feelings they can arouse, and for this pair, telling you the tale in alternate chapters, it's clear that they are unclear which of those is the real thing.  The two characters really are like chalk and cheese, and Mazetti handles this really well, with each character having their own recognisable voice.  However old (or young) you are, this is a book to enjoy.